Friday, October 19, 2007

The End is the Beginning!

Well, folks, it's come that time: Time for the unveiling of The New Me! Yes, I have a new body, as you can see from the pics in this (long-delayed) entry.

A note about the photo shoot: I was lucky enough to hook up with a photographer who shoots for all kinds of things, one of them being stills and behind-the-scenes pics for the adult industry. His name is Greg Lenzman, and I've known him for a few years. He was gracious enough to volunteer to do the shoot for free, and he took me out to this really cool abandoned pier just off the PCH in Malibu, and it was there that I had one of the best days of my life. I've always had a very hard time taking my shirt off in private, much less in public, so for me to have felt confident enough to pose for this photo shoot was a HUGE deal. It felt GREAT! I was out there for hours in the sun, and I felt so sexy! Greg (aka "Mocha") took some amazing shots. When I saw them later on, I couldn't believe how I looked. "Is that ME!?" I exclaimed. Sure enough, it was. I can't tell you how happy I am with the results.

Speaking of results, here they are:


Weight: 169.2 lb.
Biceps: 12 ¼ “
Chest: 40 “
Waist: 40”


Weight: 156 lb.
Biceps: 13 ¼ “
Chest: 39”*
Waist: 34”

* The final figure indicates a loss of fat, not muscle.

When I saw that I'd lost six inches off my waist, I was ecstatic. And boy, does it show. Just look at those before pics!!!

Sadly, my time training in the gym with Ronn has come to an end. After seven and a half months sweating it out at Train, my workout project for Frontiers is finished. And I'm sad. If anyone would have told me back in January that I would be sad to NOT work out, I think I would have laughed at them. As you all know, I was not the biggest fan of the gym culture, especially the L.A. gym scene. But my, how times change.

I'm a changed man now in many ways. If you've been following along on the blog, then you've read about how working out with Ronn has helped me to grow and evolve. Not only did I come to appreciate the value of working out regularly, I learned to appreciate the value of something much more important: Myself. I like myself more than I ever have now. I look in the mirror, and while I don't see exactly the body that I want, I generally like what I see, and I understand that I have it in my power to change the things that I don't like. That's an amazing knowledge to be aware of. It seems like such a simple thing--common sense to some. But to those of us who have struggled with body dysmorphia and who have felt intimidated by those more in shape, that is something that is hard for us to learn.

But what is beautiful about what I have done for myself is that I no longer feel inadequate and un-attractive. I am now simply aware of my body's limitations, and instead of feeling bad about the things that I cannot change, I accept and embrace those things as part of what makes me Ken. I am a little self-conscious about my rib cage being so low and prominent, but I just know that I have to work all that much harder on my chest and on my shoulders and arms to bring balance and symmetry to my body. OK. I know I will never have a full head of hair again, but I now see that I am a very attractive man just the same. Working out has helped me to realize that I simply can't be everybody's type--just as not everybody is mine. I no longer take rejection so personally. If they can't see me for the beautiful person that I am, then who really has the problem here? {Haha.}

Actually, there's so much more to it than feeling attractive and hot and desirable. The superficial reasons for working out are only half of why I did it in the first place. The bigger reward is that I was able to accomplish something that I had previously thought myself incapable of doing. Before when I worked out, I would lose my enthusiasm quickly. But this time around, I remained enthusiastic through all of it. Of course, this is all due to having a trainer to help push and guide me through the process. Through it all, Ronn became not only my trainer and my teacher, but also my mentor, my therapist, my big brother and my best friend. I knew from the first time we met that we were going to hit it off famously, and we did. I simply couldn't have achieved all that I did without him.

But now it's time for me to take what I've learned from Ronn and go out on my own, and I'm very excited to begin this next chapter of taking care of myself. I injured my wrist during the last few weeks of training, and I've been taking a break from weights since then to give it time to heal. It was a huge shock going from working out five nights a week to not working out at all, and I still find myself restless, but I make sure I hike in Runyon Canyon on the weekends just to keep active, and as soon as my doctor gives me the OK to head back into the gym, I am so there. Ronn has put together a great program for me to follow on my own, and I can't wait to see what else I can accomplish with my body. It's onward and upward for me!

I will post on this blog periodically to keep you updated on how I'm doing, of course. I can't guarantee I'll do it often, but I will keep posting text and pics so you can follow along in my journey. Thanx for all your support along the way. It's been a huge help!

Talk to you soon!


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Winding Down...

Wow, I can't believe how long it's been since I posted here. (Yes, I know I'm always saying that. I suck!) I also can't believe how quickly it's all gone. Seven months ago on January 22, I started this whole thing as a project for Frontiers magazine, and it's become something else entirely. (I kinda always knew it would, though.) It's become a project in personal reaffirmation and in facing my fears and becoming the man I always knew I could be. And I'm almost there.

In terms of what's been going on in the gym, it's been a little intense lately. Ronn began packing on the weight more and more, challenging me to step up to the plate and put my newly developed muscles to the test. Lots of bench presses, shoulder flies, bicep curls, tricep pulldowns and leg presses. Anything and everything. There's even been some boxing! Some of it has been excruciating! (Have you ever heard a grown man whimper? It's NOT pretty!) But when I leave the gym at night all sweaty (I love being sweaty after a hot workout!) and am driving home, I feel elated and pumped.

I can't believe the changes I've been seeing in my body. They were subtle at first, but lately, things have been "falling into place" in a more noticeable way. The muscles in my shouders, biceps and chest are more pronounced, more developed, and my upper legs and butt? Well, let's just say that sometimes when I try on sexy underwear and look at myself in the mirror, I can't help but want to jump the bones of the man looking back at me. Haha. (I've been working on a story about underwear for Unzipped magazine, so I've been getting tons of free samples in the mail from folks like Ginch Gonch, Aussie Bum and Andrew Christian. All this hot stuff that I always wanted to wear, but never thought I could pull off--until now! Woof!)

I'm still sticking to my diet as well. And it's no longer anything I even think about. It's just become part of my life now, eating this way. In fact, I've actually come to really like the food I'm eating, to the point where I find myself craving it all the time. Oatmeal for breakfast, a chicken breast salad with apples, raisins, onions and walnuts for lunch, and chicken breast and/or tofu and brown rice for dinner. I never get tired of it. I have certain little cheats. Like, after every workout, I drive straight to this awesome frozen yogurt place called Yogotango and I have a small plain yogurt with bananas, strawberries and granola. But I read that if you spike your insulin directly following a workout, you can actually increase your metabolism, which leads to quicker weight loss. Funnily enough, I've noticed a more dramatic loss in my tummy since I started eating the yogurt regularly. So it's a cheat I feel good about. (Besides, it's only 130 calories per serving, and it's low in fat.) And I did break down and have a few of the new Chipotle BBQ Snack Wraps from McDonald's, but only on my cheat day. But I'm still losing weight, so I'm not sweating it.

As my body changes more and more and I start to feel FAN-FRICKING-TASTIC about myself, I realize what an amazing thing I've done for myself. I don't know that I've necessarily reached the goal I wanted to (I want to get a little bit bigger in my upper body before I go and do this thing totally on my own, so I'm looking into options in order to keep training with Ronn at least three nights a week), but I did reach at least one goal: I conquered my fear of the gym, and now feel as if I fully belong there. I'm not quite an athlete, but I am legitimately athletic, and that's something I'd always wanted to be. Perhaps I'll go and joing the gay rugby team in L.A. now! (The boys are HOT!)

Anyway, even though my official after pics aren't being taken until somewhere around Aug. 28, I did take a few advance shots this past weekend on my newly made-over patio (yet another phase of my own personal "Extreme Makeover" session), and I thought I would post a couple of them here so you could have a "sneak peek" at "the new Ken."

I'll keep you updated this week.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Still Pumping Iron

Well, what can I say, folks? Obviously, you know by now that I'm not the best at updating this darned thing. I'm doing a much better job of updating the blog that I do for work. (Check it out if you want--and if you're into gay porn.) But since that is written at the office during work hours, it's a lot easier than tending to this one, which is usually done following a workout session in my "freelance" hours. And this gym convert is usually too darned tired after one of his strenuous workouts.

Some of you might be thinking: Wait a minute, Ken, wasn't this whole thing supposed to be over by now? And you'd be right. It's been a little over six months since I started working out with Ronn. (The exact starting date was January 22.) But, since I was a wimp with virtually no muscle content at all when I started, the first five months were really just about building a foundation of muscle. At the end of those five months, I looked in the mirror and was happy with what I saw--Wow, check out that definition in my arms!--but I realized that I was nowhere near where I wanted to be in terms of being ready for "after" pics. So, Ronn and I both decided to extend the project by one more month to give us extra time to try to "pump me up." I also added an extra day of weight training (up to five nights, compared to the four I was originally doing), and went on an extra-modified diet (essentially high protein--nothing but chicken, fish, eggs, brown rice and baked potatoes) to help achieve the bod I want.

So far, not so bad. This past weekend I weighed myself on the scale at the gym, and was amazed to see that not only had I reached my goal (160 pounds), but had actually surpassed it (I was down to 158)!!! That was pretty thrilling, I must say. Other than weight lost in pounds, I've also lost a good bit of weight in inches. I've certainly noticed dramatic changes in the way that my clothes fit--or rather, don't fit--me. I've got several pair of 32-inch waist jeans that now hang over my butt! I've had to belt them just to keep them from falling down. Woo hoo! (Of course, you know what that means: I have to buy new clothes. Anyone wanna fund my next shopping spree?)

But where some weight has been lost, other weight has been gained--or rather, redistributed. Where I used to have measly soft arms and sunken torso, I now have lean, firm biceps and the outline of a nice, soon-to-be-formidable chest forming. My legs are pretty ripped from hours of cardio on the eliptical machine, treadmill and the Stairs to Nowhere. My back is getting more solid by the day. And my abs are hardening with each set of 75 crunches/leg raises, etc. There are days where I will look in the mirror and not recognize myself at all. Other days I still see the out-of-shape wimp I used to be, and then stress that I'm not working hard enough and want to race back into the gym so I can make up for it.

But the truth is, I'm working my tail off, and it's showing. I'm getting more compliments than ever from friends who haven't seen me in a while, and even from those who saw me only a week ago. These last few weeks are going to be some of the most crucial of the entire project, as this is really about building upon the foundation that Ronn and I have created together.
I've been asked to show my body a few times, but I'm holding out on any unveiling until the end of the project. That means I've stayed away from pool parties (I'm not really a fan anyway) and haven't updated my pics on my dating-site profiles either. All in good time, my pretties, all in good time. I want the "after" pics to be as dramatically different than the "before" pics as possible, so I'm keeping the bod under wraps until then. Frontiers will publish the final installment in the Sept. 12 issue of the magazine, which means I need to have my story and the pictures turned in by August 26. That leaves just under a month for Ronn and I to rock the sh#t out and get me as close to looking like a swimsuit model as possible. It should be interesting--and pretty painful!

Stay tuned, folks! I will try to update more often in these last few weeks1

(Pics by Kevin Cazares)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Who's That Pretty [Boy] in the Mirror There?

So now that things are beginning to get down to the wire (we've got just a little over a month left until we are at the official six-month mark), Ronn has begun to really "step things up" in the gym. Not that we were pussying around before or anything, but now he's really begun to pack the weight on.

On Tuesday, we started our session off with some lunge walks across the room. 15 deep steps over and 15 deep steps back. With 20-pound weights! OH. MY. GOD. Then we went downstairs to do some squats with me supporting a bar on my shoulders. HOLY. SH#T! For the rest of the night--and all day long Wednesday--I could barely walk. Talk about pain. Sheesh. Then last night (Thursday), it was all about biceps, and Ronn again gave me the heavy weights. There were moments after completing a set of 15 reps where I almost thought I was going to have an emotional outburst. I have to really collect myself in these moments, because sometimes it hurts so much to complete the reps that I have tears stinging my eyes. I may hate Ronn for 30 seconds afterward, but I just hold my tongue and breathe and wipe the sweat off my brow and come back for more.

I've been surprising myself, though. As I watch my body change right in front of my eyes ("Damn, Ken, check out those biceps!"), I continue to be amazed by the things we can accomplish if we set our minds to it. For me, this experience has given me so much more confidence in myself. For years I kept myself out of the gym because I kept telling myself that I would fail at it. I just didn't think I had what it took to do it and succeed at it. But the more I keep at it, the more I succeed, and the more confident I become. And it's not just because I can look in the mirror and see my arms getting bigger and my stomach getting smaller. It's not that I feel "hotter" or "sexier." What I'm getting out of this experience is so much more than the physical pay-off. Just the liberation that comes from putting your mind to something and accomplishing it profoundly motivational. When I leave the gym, I feel like I can conquer the world.

The great part, though, is how it's affected nearly every other area of my life, as well. The confidence has spilled over into my relation- ships with my friends, to the way I approach my bosses at work, to the way I am handling my career. I've had "breakthrough moments" in every one of these areas. I speak more freely when my feelings are hurt by friends. I told my bosses I wasn't happy in my job anymore, told them I wanted more money, and--when they ponied up with a very small increase--I gave them my notice and found a new gig that pays better instead. (I start June 25. Yay, me!) I've experienced such feelings of elation and joy as of late, it's actually been a little overwhelming at times. Working out in the gym has led me into a perfect period of clarity in my life. Now that I've conquered one of my biggest fears--and now that I no longer spend my time being down on myself for being out of shape--I can see myself for who I truly am, and I am able to be more proactive in the areas where work still needs to be done. Who ever would have thought that this all could have come from working out?

Anyway, there you go. More insight from a gym bunny in training! I'll be sure to check back in with ya soon to keep you updated on what's happening with my body. I'm going to start measuring my body to see how much muscle mass I've gained. That should be fun! Woo hoo! I'm just one pound away from my desired weight (160 pounds, down from 172 when I started), so, like Kate Hudson was said in Almost Famous, "It's all happening!" So stay tuned!

(Pics by Kevin Cazares)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What I'm Learning at the Gym

NOTE: The following entry originally appeared in Frontiers Newsmagazine.

Four months ago, I set off on a journey to get in touch with my inner athlete by hooking up with a personal trainer and hitting the weights. It’s been an exciting time for me—one filled with all kinds of personal highs and discoveries. In fact, I’m learning all kinds of interesting things about myself and my body—and especially other people. With three more months to go until Project Makeover comes to a close, I thought I’d offer up a few of these interesting discoveries.

Private gyms are truly an insecure gay man’s best friend. Working out at Train has helped me get over my case of “gym phobia.” I no longer feel like I don’t belong at the gym. What’s more, I’ve actually grown to become a little addicted to going. Train is like a sanctuary of sorts for me now—a place where it’s OK for things to be all about me for an hour or two. It helps that my trainer, Ronn Burns, knows just how to ease my fears and give me the room that I need to excel, but beyond that, I’ve tapped into a part of myself that I’d always wanted to reach out to, but just wasn’t sure how. Bonus: There’s none of that silly cruising going on in the locker rooms at Train.

60 seconds of pre-emptive stretching can save you days of pain. I found out the hard way before I got onto the elliptical machine that failure to stretch can lead to some pretty serious soreness. Come to think of it, this is a good thing to remember before having particularly athletic sex, as well. Trust me, I know.

Running or walking in place can be hell with nothing to do. It was fine when I could only do three minutes on the elliptical machine, but once I built myself up to doing 30, 45 and even 60 minutes (Go, me!), it got to be pretty tedious. Thank God for my iPod. Now I can catch up with Veronica Mars, Lost and Battlestar Galactica while getting my cardio in. Does that make me a treadmill potato?

Jumping rope is a lot harder than I remember it being.
Seriously, trying to coordinate swinging the rope around at just the exact moment that I’m hopping off the ground was not easy work. It took a lot of practice at home—and a lot of patience on Ronn’s part—to get it down.

Trader Joe’s peanut butter is God’s gift to healthy diets. When Ronn told me I would have to switch to unsalted peanut butter, I grimaced. Now, I eat the stuff by the tablespoon-full as a snack on my cheat day and put it in my morning protein shakes. If there was a Peanut Butter Addicts Anonymous group, I think I’d be its founding member.

Celebrities sweat just like the rest of us. There are a couple TV (and porn) stars who work out at Train. One of them is on one my favorite shows, and we’ve ended up doing cardio next to each other a few times. She always smiles and nods to me. There’s something comforting about knowing that, when it comes to looking good, celebrities have to work just as hard as the rest of us.

High-energy trance music isn’t just for gays anymore. There are these two straight guys who love to work out to really loud trance music. They keep asking the receptionist to turn it up, then they spend the next hour hooting and hollering their way through their session. Which leads me to…

Straight men are even more annoying than we thought they were when they’re working out. Look, fellas, I’m really glad that you’re rockin’ twice your body weight on those bench presses, but seriously, do you really need to let everyone in the room know how strong you think you are? A little humility goes a long way. Still, it must be said that…

Gay men are just way too into themselves. OK, so this is nothing we didn’t already know. But, there’s this one trainer who won’t stop looking at himself in the mirror—even when he’s training his clients. I keep waiting for his reflection to shout out, “Hey, dude! Take a frickin’ picture; it’ll last longer.” I know that’s what I want to shout.

There’s nothing like a shopping spree to reward yourself. As I’ve noticed the changes in my body—smaller tummy, bigger arms and shoulders, diminished chin—I’ve taken to making little pit stops at Target on my way home from the gym and picking up some cool T-shirts and stuff. The best part of all is that when I try the clothes on, I no longer cringe at my reflection in the mirror. Things are looking good. I see where my body is headed, and I can’t wait to get there. Even so…

Patience is definitely a virtue. As improved as my body looks, I’ve become a little impatient about seeing that tummy go away completely and those shoulders get a bit bigger and rounder. But Ronn says he is very impressed with my progress. “Swimsuit issue, here you come!” he tells me. I don’t know about all that, but it’s obvious there’s a reason I’m keeping this guy around.

(Pics by Kevin Cazares)

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Week 11: Still Going Strong!!!

OK, folks, I realize it's been quite some time since I last posted. Sheesh! Where does the time go? Has it really been since February 16 that I last posted a new blog entry? I'm a bad blogger. A verrry bad blogger. I should be punished.

Actually, sometimes it feels like I am being punished by Trainer Ronn, especially after a workout like last night's. But I'm getting ahead of myself...again. Let me catch you up to speed.

In the last six weeks, I've kind of blossomed into a little gym bunny. Haha. Well, not quite, but I have become a bona-fide fan of working out. I'm still going to the gym four nights a week and doing one day of cardio on my own, but I've also stepped it up a bit by doing a second day of cardio plus weekly hikes in Runyon Canyon, where I've now managed to hike up the big mountain two weeks in a row. I tried hiking that thing a year ago, and I couldn't even make it a quarter of the way up. Now I've hiked it twice, and each time it's gotten easier for me to do it without resting as much as I thought I would have to. And let me tell you, folks: My ass is all the hotter for it. I've received a few comments, in fact, from folks who have commented on how much nicer my derriere is looking these days. Is that hot or what?

With all the cardio, you're probably thinking, "Damn, Ken, you must have taken off TONS of weight." Well, I'm happy to report that I have indeed lost some unnecessary and unwanted poundage. In week 7, I was down about 2-and-a-half pounds, and in week 8, I lost an additional 2-and-a-half. I started out at a weight of 170, and was down to 165. The following two weeks I maintained that same weight, and then actually gained a pound the next week. Luckily, I managed to lose that extra pound--and then some--and last night, I was down to 163--and that was even after I'd taken five days off working out so I could go to another trade show in Phoenix for work (though I did manage to get one day on the treadmill in at the hotel I was staying at). It's great to see the weight loss, because it's a more tangible proof that what I'm doing is paying off for me. Ronn is quick to tell me that he doesn't want me to take off too much weight, though. It's not about losing; it's about redistributing, he says. Which I get. But it sure is nice to watch that tummy of mine continue to disappear.

The workouts themselves have gotten both easier and harder. While I've gotten used to lifting weights more, Ronn makes sure to keep packing the weight on so that the reps are actually harder on me. Today, in fact, I am sore in my chest for the first time in quite a while, as last night, I lifted 120 pounds--the most I've done so far. Last night was all about chest and back, and tonight I suspect it will be all about shoulders and arms. There's still always one day a week where it's an abs-only day, which is great. Ronn says I have to make sure that I suck my stomach in during the workouts. He says I have a bad habit of actually pushing my tummy out when I lift--which makes those ab muscles harden in the wrong direction. Guess I'm going to have to work harder at that.

I've managed to come quite a way in terms of my core strength. Standing on the half-ball now is fairly easy, and I've managed to figure out jumping rope, too. And last week I managed to do several push-ups on my own--without Ronn putting a towel under me and helping to pull me up. That was quite a boon to my ego, I must say.

Friends continue to tell me that I look thinner and more svelte. I do notice in pictures now that my face appears to have gotten thinner. (Maybe I can avoid having that planned chin-tuck after all! LOL!) My clothes fit differently, too. I have to wear belts now to make sure that my pants don't droop too low. Hmmm, guess it means that it will soon be time for me to buy new clothes. Woo hoo! Shopping!

We're coming up on the three-month mid-point of my six-month workout routine, and things are going swimmingly. I know for sure that I will continue working out even past the six-month point, as I can't imagine not keeping up with this now that it's become such a big part of my life.

Anyway, I will try to post more often in the future, as time allows. Talk soon!

(Pics by Kevin Cazares)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Days 13, 14, 15 & 16: Feeling the Results

So the last two nights have been super-great workouts, but I'm getting ahead of myself already. I guess I need to backtrack a little bit and catch you up on last week's progress first! Sheesh, I need more time in my weeks!

It all started with Monday, day 13, another "off" day for me. Maybe it was just that it was a "13" day (and therefore an unlucky day), but I'm beginning to wonder if perhaps Monday nights are not my best night for having my head in the right place for the gym. Even though I did over an hour of cardio the day before, I was still a little shaky when I got to the gym on Monday and started going through the exercises. It wasn't that I couldn't complete any of them. It's just that I my mind and body didn't seem to be as agile when it came to "being in the moment" mentally and physically. I'm assuming these are the days when other people who aren't obliged to show up at the gym (thank God I have to work out because of the Frontiers follow-up this spring) might decide to skip it and stay at home. But you know, even on my off days, I'm still a little excited about going to the gym, precisely because I know that I'm doing something good for myself. I suppose that outweighs any "blahness" I feel on any given day.

Anyway, the rest of the week went well. I had a film screening on Tuesday and had to interview a rock band on Friday, so Ronn and I had to juggle our schedules to make sure I got all four days in. So I was at Train on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and then Saturday morning for another full hour of ab work. And, Monday excluded, it was a pretty good week of working out. I was especially pleased with myself on Saturday, as this was not only the first time that I attempted to get back onto one of those half-ball contraptions and stay balanced--which I was able to do all on my own after just a little bit of help from Ronn--but it was also the first day that I was able to do 10 "sit-ups" from a completely lying down (with hands over my head) position. This had been an exercise that I couldn't even complete a single rep of, and to have been able to complete 10 was quite the thrill for me. "I'm so proud of you," Ronn said. I was a little proud of myself as well, especially because my friend Kevin--who takes all the pics you see on this blog--was there to witness both of these "firsts" for me.

I did 50 minutes of cardio following Saturday's workout so that I could make up for the day of only-cardio that I would normally have, and experienced yet another "first." I was able to do an entire 30 minutes on the elliptical machine, which had previously made my legs and back hurt after only being on the machine for a few minutes. I even played around with the levels of resistance and the cross-range settings so that I could work out different areas of my body (quads, butt) and with increased resistance. I rocked that machine!

The one thing I have noticed is the lack of soreness that my body feels when I do some of the exercises on the machines now. Ronn had said that as we broke my muscles down, they would come back bigger and stronger, and would therefore be able to handle more weight without getting as sore. And that seems to be the case. Whether we are working on shoulders and chest or biceps and back, my body is "repairing" itself quicker and quicker, and I am becoming more aware of my increasing strength and agility--though I am still far from being able to do free push-ups or pull-ups. For push-ups, Ronn had to put a towel under my waist so he could help pull me up each time. It's harder for me to support my entire body on my own, but I know that in time I will be able to do this. I look forward to the day when I do 10 of those!

Until then, stay tuned!

(Pics by Kevin Cazares)